What We Do

Economic inequality is a driver for much of the world’s issues, and has a direct causal link to poor access to education, insufficient health-care, and increased likelihood of conflict. Small and medium businesses make up 97% of all jobs in emerging economies, meaning that supporting the success of these businesses is key in addressing some of the world’s most ingrained inequalities. 

Since 2008, we’ve supported the success of entrepreneurs and better inclusivity across the ecosystem. Whether we’re playing at a micro or a macro level, we design and deliver solutions that are holistic, multi-dimensional, collaborative, locally-led, and tailored for the context we’re working in. 

Where We Work

How We Work

Impacting Lives at the Micro Level

At a micro level we work to increase the capacity and agency of entrepreneurs to run successful businesses. We design and deliver programs to support entrepreneurs who are developing market-based solutions that address social and environmental problems within their context, and who may otherwise face obstacles in accessing this kind of support. We also create local collaborations that work towards better access and inclusion to local entrepreneurial ecosystems.

ygap Accelerator Program

This program is designed to support locally-led ventures in emerging markets, understanding that people who are local to a community and understand its specific needs are those best placed to develop and lead businesses that will make a difference and solve local problems. This program currently runs in Kenya, South Africa and Bangladesh. 

yher Program

yher has been developed in recognition of the barriers that women face in starting, running and growing a business in many parts of the world. yher is designed to help overcome these barriers and support women entrepreneurs to prosper. This program currently runs in the Pacific Islands and Africa. 

ygap First Gens Program

ygap First Gens is a program that supports migrants, refugees and diverse founders born overseas to thrive in the Australian business community. This program currently runs in Australia. 

Changing Systems at the Macro Level

At a macro level, we identify system-level barriers to support, inclusion and access within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, then work with stakeholders across sectors to co-design and implement solutions to address them. This looks like:

Championing financial inclusion for women entrepreneurs in Fiji

Advancing Gender Equality in Entrepreneurship With a Gender Lens

Developing a Handbook for Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs

Addressing systemic gender inequality through a Gender Equality Action Lab

Supporting the inclusive growth of entrepreneurship support in Sri Lanka

Addressing complex challenges in entrepreneurial ecosystems

Covid-19 Response in the Pacific

Championing financial inclusion for women entrepreneurs in Fiji

Together with Fintech Pacific, Mastercard® and the Australian Government, ygap is part of a consortium of partners supported by the Business Partnerships Platform* that are working to champion better inclusion for women business owners in Fiji. The approach is holistic – fusing next generation technology, market access, small business acceleration and ecosystem disruption. Locally-led in design, development and delivery, the resulting solution will be specifically tailored to the needs and context of Fiji’s women entrepreneurs.

Vendors will be able to sell, scale, shop and save from their smartphone, accepting card and digital payments from locals and international visitors. What were informal, cash-based traders at risk of being left behind will now be at the forefront of Fiji’s digital transformation.

Equipped with the tools of financial inclusion, women business owners will be empowered to ‌grow‌ ‌their‌ ‌income,‌ ‌increase‌ ‌their‌ ‌financial‌ ‌security,‌ ‌support‌ ‌their ‌families‌ ‌and‌ ‌help‌ ‌their‌ ‌communities.‌ With women-led businesses playing an integral role in Fiji’s economy, the country will be better equipped to‌ ‌recover‌ from ‌COVID-19’s‌ devastating economic impact.

Led by our Fijian team, ygap will engage 400 women entrepreneurs, leading contextualised, community-led business and financial training, supporting human-centred design for, and advocating for their adoption of, the platform. 

*The Business Partnerships Platform (BPP) is an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. They support partnerships between the Australian Government and inclusive and sustainable businesses to create a lasting social and environmental impact. In partnership with ygap, Mastercard, and Fiji-based Fintech Pacific, BPP is engaging in a project that will better support the economic empowerment of women in Fiji.

Project name:Driving Financial Inclusion through Digital Banking and Payment Acceptance for female MSMEs in Fiji

Partner organisations:Fintech Pacific, Mastercard, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Geographic area of focus:Fiji

Date commenced:June 2021

Length of project:3 years

Advancing Gender Equality in Entrepreneurship With a Gender Lens

In 2019, ygap partnered with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation to develop the Gender Lens Incubation and Acceleration toolkit – an interactive resource that organisations working with entrepreneurs can use to determine how they can make their operations and programs more accessible and inclusive of all genders. Since then, the partnership has grown year on year to not only expand on the initial toolkit itself but also develop an ecosystem of resources and capacity building services that surround the toolkit and support its adoption.

Building on the past two years, ygap is currently: 

  • Facilitating a community of practice made up of six member organisations from across South East Asia who are passionate about advancing gender equality through their work. They support each other through exchanging practices, insights and resources in order to collectively continue advancing the application of a gender lens to incubation and acceleration. As a community, they are also creating new valuable tools for other organisations to use. Members include Villgro Philippines, Impact Hub Kuala Lumpur, Changefusion Thailand, xchange Philippines, makesense Philippines and SHE Investments Cambodia. 
  • Piloting a train the trainer program to support and empower other organisations to build the capacity of their peers in their respective countries. This involves training Villgro Philippines to deliver a capacity building program for five incubators across the Philippines to advance gender equality through their work.
  • Co-authoring an impact report that will review and share the impact the GLIA ecosystem has had on increasing the inclusiveness of the entrepreneurship ecosystem across SouthEast Asia. The latter will be shared with funders and other ecosystem stakeholders around the world to encourage them to support this growing movement.

Project name:Growing the Gender Lens Incubation and Acceleration (GLIA) Ecosystem

Partner organisation:Sasakawa Peace Foundation

Geographic area of focus:Southeast Asia

Date commenced:April 2021

Length of project:1 year

Developing a Handbook for Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs

ygap is partnering with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a German based organisation that provides services in the field of international development cooperation and international education work, to develop a resource that their team and networks can use to advance gender equality as part of their sustainable development initiatives.

The Handbook for Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs is being developed through a collaborative learning and design process that leverages the experiences of GIZ staff around the world who have diverse experience supporting entrepreneurs and empowering women. It is an interactive guide that funders, program managers and other stakeholders can use to understand the business case behind accelerating women entrepreneurs, and how to go about designing, implementing and measuring an accelerator program that aims to advance gender equality through supporting women entrepreneurs. In addition to facilitating the learning and design process, and developing the handbook, ygap is also creating internal guidelines and a policy document to help GIZ staff consider using acceleration as a tool to advance gender equality as part of their initiatives. 

GIZ works with a variety of stakeholders in 120 countries worldwide, so this handbook has vast potential to create impact across multiple development projects along with a better enabling environment for the success of women entrepreneurs. The handbook will also be available as a public resource and will offer another important tool for organisations who wish to level the playing field for women-led ventures.

Project name:Handbook for Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs

Partner organisation:The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

Geographic area of focus:Worldwide

Date commenced:July 2021

Length of project:7 months

Addressing systemic gender inequality through a Gender Equality Action Lab

The East and SouthEast Asia Gender Equality Action Lab is a collective platform convening regional specialists and practitioners over 9-12 months to identify barriers to success, ideate and prototype solutions to systematic gender inequalities in the Small Growing Business (SGB) sector. While ANDE is the primary partner in the delivery of this project, ygap is proud to be working with a great many other exceptional individuals and organisations within the region as participants of the Lab. 

The Action Lab uses a design thinking approach to support practitioners to develop and prototype a solution to a collectively defined and researched problem. Implemented as part of the ANDE Gender Equality Initiative (AGEI), the Lab aims to contribute to the United Nations Development Goals (SDG5): “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” and provide support to women as leaders, employees, and customers in the emerging market small and growing business (SGB) sector.

ygap is on the advisory committee for the Lab along with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF), Teja Ventures, UNESCAP, Mastercard’s centre for Inclusive Growth and Small Enterprise Assistance Funds (SEAF). 

You can find out more about the Lab here

Project name:Aspen Network for Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) Gender Equality Action Lab

Partner organisations:ANDE and multiple Lab participants from across ESEA

Geographic area of focus:South and SouthEast Asia

Supporting the inclusive growth of entrepreneurship support in Sri Lanka

In conjunction with the University of Queensland and Impact Innovation, and funded by Australian DFAT, the Business Incubation Management program involves the delivery of a capacity building program for 22 incubators based in Sri Lanka. Designed in the format of a short course and delivered remotely, this program engages leaders of existing and prospective business incubator programs across the country to support their development. 

As Sri Lanka’s entrepreneurial ecosystem grows, it is important to be considering social inclusion and equity from the outset. The aim of this program is to support the development of effective business incubators in Sri Lanka that promote inclusive entrepreneurship, especially focusing on the support of women, persons with disabilities and other underrepresented groups in entrepreneurship.

ygap is the Gender Equality, Disability and Social Inclusion lead for the program, using our expertise to guide the program participants in embedding GEDSI considerations and strategies as part of adapting their current incubators, or developing new ones. Additionally, ygap designed and delivered part of the program around key practices and components of acceleration and incubation, and is mentoring eight of the participants for the duration of the program. 

Project name:Business Incubation Management

Partner organisations:University of Queensland, DFAT, Impact Innovation, Australia Awards (DFAT)

Geographic area of focus:Sri Lanka

Date commenced:June 2021

Length of project:7 Months

Addressing complex challenges in entrepreneurial ecosystems

Over the past three years, ygap has been a key implementing partner as part of the Scaling Frontier Innovation program, which seeks to achieve impact and social change in Asia Pacific through supporting social entrepreneurship. As one of the implementing partners for the Frontier Incubators component, ygap worked with SecondMuse and Converners.org to support the capacity building of 31 organisations who are working with entrepreneurs from 17 countries across Asia and the Pacific. 

Frontier Labs Asia builds on this program to provide a collaborative and supportive space for ecosystem actors to work together to strengthen entrepreneurial ecosystems across South and Southeast Asia. Through the program, five solutions to systemic problems were designed and piloted by teams of diverse ecosystem actors.

Those solutions include: 

  • Open Source Investment Syndication: A toolkit for angel investment syndication via special purpose vehicles & acceleration of first-time fund managers, focused on women-led funds in Asia.
  • Climate Angels Network: A regional climate-tech angel investment support network & brokerage facility, focused on mobilising blended early stage capital to SGBs working on climate solutions.
  • Cross-Border Gender Lens Investing Program: A regionalisation program for angel investors focused on cross-border knowledge sharing and investing, focused on gender-lens integration and peer-to-peer coaching.
  • Alternative Pathways to Finance Impact: An exploration of the barriers and approaches to bridging the gap in early stage financing for SGBs, and the role of the ESOs to leverage the knowledge, skills and networks toward delivering a cost effective solution through case studies.
  • Impact Measurement Principles for Entrepreneurship Support (IMPES): A set of evolving, open-source, guiding principles for entrepreneur support organisations (ESOs) to establish robust metrics, led by a community of practice and developed with input from key stakeholders.

You can find out more about these solutions here. ygap formed part of the coordinating team as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) lead for the Labs. This involves supporting the five project teams to identify how they can advance DEI through their team, solutions and piloting process. Ygap was also an Measurement, Evaluation and Learning advisor as part of the Impact Measurement Principles for Entrepreneurship Support project.

Project name:Frontier Labs Asia

Partner organisations:DFAT, SecondMuse, Moonshot Global

Geographic area of focus:South and SouthEast Asia

Date commenced:10 May 2021

Length of project:1 year

Covid-19 Response in the Pacific

The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on the local communities and economies of the Pacific Islands, especially by those sectors involved in tourism, cross-border trade in agricultural products, garments and manufactured goods. Hundreds of small and medium enterprises were dependent on these industries both directly and indirectly. 

Recognising the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on entrepreneurs and entrepreneur support organisations, the Scaling Frontier Innovation (SFI) Response program designed and delivered a structured short-term program to support social entrepreneurship in the Pacific. The program worked with 7 social enterprises (SEs) and 6 entrepreneurship support organisations (ESOs), focusing on developing capabilities to adapt and respond to challenges presented by COVID-19. 

The social enterprise component was an integrated support and training program that provided SEs with approximately A$15,000 of support, divided across technical assistance and catalytic grants, accompanied by on-call support from the implementing team as well as optional peer-to-peer thematics. 

The entrepreneur support organisation component was a support program that provided ESOs with approximately A$30,000 of support for them to carry out a series of activities aimed at building their own organisation’s and/or their enterprises’ resilience in response to the pandemic, accompanied by on-call support from the implementing team as well as optional peer-to-peer thematics.

Project name:Scaling Frontier Innovation COVID-19 Response Program

Partner organisations: DFAT, DT Global, Talanoa Consulting

Geographic area of focus:Pacific Islands

Date commenced:May 2020

Length of project:7 months

Campaigns and Advocacy

Our vision is an equitable and sustainable world. But the reality right now is very different. 1 in 2 children experience violence each year, and 1 in 3 women have experienced violence in their lifetime. 

ygap’s Polished Man campaign encourages everyone to take a stand and actively commit to help end violence against women and children, by painting one nail for the month of October. The funds we raise support trauma prevention and recovery programs in Australia and around the world that aim to stop violence before it can occur, as well as helping survivors on their road to recovery.

Sign up today, paint a nail, start a conversation and raise funds to help end violence against women and children.

Learn More

Measuring Our Work

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) is our barometer. Designing metrics, undertaking data collection, and analysing that data helps us see where our work is doing what we intend it to, and where we are falling short. This information allows us to continually iterate to make sure we don’t just have good intentions, but that our work is actually providing consistent and valuable outcomes. MEL is applied across our impact operations, tailored to the context we’re working in and the needs to of the people we’re working with. 

To read more about our MEL work, follow the links below.